Happy first day of Advent!
It is my great pleasure to announce the official release of "Liturgy" my 6th album since returning to my recording career in 2015!
The album sequence is:
1. Prophet's Candle
2. Hail Mary
3. Fear Not (Adamah of the Earth)
5. Ring Out, Wild Bells
6. When Love Meets Dust
7. Human One
9. Heart of Flesh
10. First Advent
I have created a free Album Journey, a series of videos, that walks through Liturgy.
To sign up for the Album Journey CLICK HERE.
to purchase a digital copy of Liturgy click here
to purchase a physical CD of Liturgy click here
to buy Alana a virtual coffee click here
to stream on Spotify click here
to stream on Apple Music click here
Below are all the music videos I have made for songs that are on Liturgy.
Including a brand new lyric video for the chant Heart of Flesh.
Last night, our family had a meal with the ancestors. We poured a glass of wine, and set out a dish of my homemade pasta, and told stories about grandparents no longer with us. We spoke rudimentary words in our ancient tongues. Our 5-year-old set out a day of the dead colouring page he had finished. Our 7-year-old chose a prayer from our Earth Prayers book, and wrote out a remarkable prayer to share with the ancestors.
Our children wondered if the ancestors would come and eat and drink together while we slept. Lo and behold! like the cookies we leave for Santa, in the morning, the dish and the glass were empty.
Our children came running into our bedroom excitedly reporting, "our ancestors love us! they came and they ate!"
Today, we will be visiting the grave site of my McRae grandparents and bringing them a jack-o-lantern.
The great work of our time, is reckoning, and reaching back, to touch and heal the wounds we carry, and also give our ancestors the time, to learn from them. Yes. Even the ones born into puritanical Scotland, who outlawed Christmas. One such great, great, great, stood at the sea's edge with the salt water on her face, and remembered she was really always free. Even the ones whose taut, bitter mouths prayed the Hail Mary out of fear. One such great, great, great, held grains in her hand, like beads, trusting that the Christmas Eve blessing would bring an enchanted yield. Even the patriarchs. The colonials. The racists. They do not need statues to commemorate and honour their oppression... but for some of you, they are your ancestor... and like the cursed kings, Isildur's Army of the Dead, in Lord of the Rings, they need to be released. Integrated. So when we, all of us, walk through the mountain together, they have been laid to rest and will not haunt our living ways.
So many of our would-be ancestors are still ghosts.
Whatever we exile will come back with ferocious vengeance. Most days I wish saying "this is bullshit" would tie it all up in a neat bow. But I know now that I haven't even been given a ladle to stir all this into the compost pile from a distance... I have been asked to jump into it.
My grandmother taught me love. She passed on remarkable wisdom. She also had anxiety. When she was 17, her brothers were blown to bits during WWII. And across the escarpment, 25 miles away, she was unaware that indigenous people were being violently displaced to create this treasured National Park I live beside. But somewhere in there, the violence of that displacement, as quietly as a thief in the night, blew through her too. Because this is not a Newtonian universe.
And as I was born, blood from away, with ancestors buried here, and otherwise smattered across the world, Uncles' crosses on foreign soil... the Grandmother's reached across the big water, hoping I would awaken from this modern trap.
I once met a young boy on the land that raised me. He was a vision. And he led me to an arrowhead, and disappeared.
Then, like when Madeleine L'Engle began to doubt she could float down the stairs, I began to doubt the vision. But I remembered that my dog saw him too, and so I held on.
My new album Liturgy is a small attempt to show a little bit of what is alive in the Christian tradition. What was always true about it. It is also a way for me to engage... to reckon with, to not run away from, my heritage.
I mentioned this week that sometimes it feels like when I release this music, that I am releasing it into the world of stone that Digory and Polly first visited. That except for immature, often petulant claims, that "this is alive!", this tradition has in many ways become a mere relic of moss-covered gothic claptrap. And... the more it must reckon and stand in the heat of its colonial history, the more will walk away from the required post of humility and tenderness. The post is required, because if some of us do not bear the lineage, important incarnate revelations will be diverted, and no one will be left to stand accused for historic wrongs.
You exile the bad, you exile the good. And I have realized that I cannot spend my life extricating myself.
At least for me, the way is through!
Then... I remember that Aslan sings the song of creation "after" we encounter this world of stone. And I check in with my own heart of stone, and let it become flesh again... knowing that however this music echoes into a stone chamber, a relic, it at least has the longing to sing new life into creation. And Merton liked to say, "For God, a little bit of longing goes a long way."
And about the witch. Maybe Jadis is a trick. Maybe she represents what comes back with a ferocious vengeance when we spend all our time extricating and exiling. And maybe even Aslan needed to find a way for whatever was stuck in her, to be healed. Integrated.
So... here is an invitation...
I make this music to aid our dynamic alive Creator/Mother/Father in removing from our chest, our hearts of stone... to replace them with a heart of flesh.
Jump into the compost pile with me, and trust that what is alive, what is good, what is true, what is beautiful, what is wild, what is free, what exceeds our ideas of the phenomenal inside of this matter, is churning... is happening... and all the fragmentation we cause, can never separate us from the love(r) that will never stop binding us together.
As we approach All Hallow's, I am preparing to send out my new musical offering Liturgy, an album of songs that follow the liturgical year... but puts the spotlight on some of the figures who were nearly erased.
Mary Magdalene is given the voice at Easter.
Thecla tells her story at Pentecost.
And because I begin the album with Advent, this song, First Advent, is situated at the end, to mark All Hallows. So I made sure the Mother of God, was given her due place.
The chorus was pulled from the great Christological hymns "and God was pleased to dwell in him in all his fullness" - I have found it is a very fruitful practice to sing "pleased to dwell" in repetition.
Many thanks to Perdita Finn and Clark Strand, for their remarkable work with the rosary.
If you sing along with that line, "pleased to dwell", I'd love to hear what comes up for you.
Liturgy released for all Patreon members on Nov 1st, and then will release widely on Nov 28th.
In this podcast, I touch again, on how we are in a time of fragmentation and division.
But this time, I speak about how I am beginning to make peace with that.
Making peace with something in our culture is often read as resignation.
Perhaps all of this chaos, is the rumbling sound of wider reality metabolizing the trauma of modernity ... or the resonant thrum of transformation through embodied decay (which is how life happens).
Thomas Merton once said, "everyone wants the red sea to part, but the problem is that we have to be in over our heads before it does."
Merton also famously said, "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going."
I think it's safe to say we are being invited to sit with having no idea. Not as a techno-fatalist act, but as an organic act of trust. In our own nature, and in the nature of the world, the universe, and in the nature of Love.
I just wrote a chant that you will hear when my album Liturgy comes out, and it paraphrases Ezekiel, "remove from us these hearts of stone, and give to us a heart of flesh". And built right into that prayer, is the acceptance of our participation in the organic nature of being and becoming... like... maybe the reason we position ourselves with hearts of stone, is because we're afraid if our hearts become flesh, they will decompose, and therefore "we" will dematerialize... in other words, from our Newtonian viewpoint, having a heart of flesh feels like annihilation.
So here are a few tender ponderings on shifting...
This is my first Sunday Song and Rumination since springtime, and it shares a bit about what has been coming up for me. The nature of this talk runs the risk of rejection, but my hope is that because I've let it steep for a long time, and at times in silence, (letting go, allowing, letting go, allowing, returning), that it will at least be received as sincere, hopeful, and maybe even some much-needed fresh air.
Not sure about that, but that is the hope.
If you feel reactive when you hear it, I would ask that you take some time to sit in silence too, so we're not merely feeding the frenzy. Our time on earth together is too precious and of the essence to waste any more of it, with frivolous, hurtful words.
This is not meant to diminish any person's experience in these times, but is an attempt to maybe examine our behaviours from a bit further back.
Today I came in from gardening to do my Sunday Song Radio show and still had dirt on my hands.
An apt image for what I attempt to speak about this week in terms of my complicity in being part of the story of colonization. How in light of the precious 215 children found in a mass grave at the Kamloops Residential school, are showing us more of the truth about Canada's history of genocide (which is ongoing).
This week, without failing to hold accountable the people responsible for these specific heinous crimes, I point out the difference between the average person who is religiously Catholic, and how in fact, if we are settler immigrants, tied to any institution, land title, or inheritance, we are in a sense, politically Catholic, because of the doctrine of discovery.
I also want to say clearly, that I am deeply disappointed that Pope Francis has not made a public apology about this recent criminal finding at the residential school that was near Kamloops. He also hasn't made one even thought the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action have asked for it. (I hint at why I think this hasn't happened yet, and when it does, people who do not see themselves as religious at all, will feel the rumbling of the foundation under their feet. I am ok with this.)
I also attempt to consider even deeper, the idea of how Jesus was standing in indigenous sovereignty when he performed his food miracles (if not ALL of his miracles). To support indigenous sovereignty and to decolonize (unharness) our creative power, is a very Christic thing to do. I saw that colonizer Jesus/historical Jesus meme floating around... and am definitely inclined toward the historical one, but I'm also complicit with the colonizer one.
A great hope that I have, is that many of you will continue to be patient with me, as you all know what it is like to do deep work. To sit in unknowing as you intuit that there is a constellation asking for you to put your ear to the thrum of the ground, staying open so the alignment can happen, and you can receive understanding.
There are prophecies around this planet that exist "outside" of our tradition. These prophecies are in keeping with what the heck Pentecost is getting at.
So if this talk isn't clear yet, please bear with me, as I open to the project being asked of me. The music is going to make it more clear, because it is coming from a nearly unspeakable place at present.
I have been on my knees this week in prayer... for indigenous people to continue experiencing a great re-membering... a great awakening from the nightmare imposed upon them... and in the case of the Fairy Creek story in Pacheedaht territory, on Vanvouver Island... I also pray for the working class people whose livelihoods rely on the lumber industry. As I said in this talk... the provincial government in British Columbia is far left, and they are still sending in the police helicopters and are now trained to hold up tarps so the arrests can't be captured on cell phones. And no matter which government is in power, it seems that they will all kneel before the GDP, and use divide and conquer tactics to keep us from looking at the bigger picture.
More to come, but again... a reminder... one of the reasons why I made the album Sanctuary - Exploring the Healing Path, is because I know that deep down, the lack of understanding (and understanding is a tenet of Pentecost!) is directly connected to how far we have to go to heal. I have a theory that many people of white settler descent are afraid to begin healing from being complicit in systemic violence, because healing from one thing, requires healing from another thing. It's the old "change the door knob, change everything" analogy. Many of us have so much of our personal trauma balled up somewhere inside of us, that to attempt healing from the trauma of being complicit in a violent government that has built-in biases, shuts us down before we can begin.
Love and peace to you.
Today's Sunday Song includes my song Fear Not (Adamah - of the Earth).
I also give a talk about how we have chosen to live and why... sounding a soft, tender trumpet for localization over centralization.
In this episode, I recommend the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, and speak into the process of letting it mirror me.
I point out that often those at the center, or in the contrived dominant caste, are led through healing journeys that can be hyper-individualized, and the resiliency needed for collective healing, and decentering, can be hard to find, or to build.
The books I reference are Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah's book Unsettling Truths - The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, as well as Resmaa Manekem's book My Grandmother's Hands, and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.
The album I mention is Sanctuary - Exploring the Healing Path (with James Finley) , and you can listen to it below, or get it at my gift economy store.
Alana Levandoski is a song and chant writer, recording artist and music producer, in the Christian tradition, who lives with her family on a regenerative farm on the Canadian prairies.